May 25, 2010

One of the things that we really loved when we visited the Tech Museum in San Jose, California (the heart of Silicon Valley) was the presence of graduate students from the Genetics  department in Stanford University’s School of Medicine, doing hands-on genetics experiments like DNA Spooling with kids who were visiting the museum.

The day we were there we watched Dan Kvitek, a graduate student in Genetics, working with young visitors. Every graduate student who joins this program not only interacts with kids in the museum, but also writes for the website, answering questions submitted to Ask a Geneticist and researching and writing articles for Current News in Genetics.

The program is overseen by professor Barry Starr, who was present the day we visited. He told us that they saw an opportunity with the popularity of forensic-based television programs like CSI to get kids engaged with the science behind the mysteries…..and the collaboration between university and museum was born.

I am always updating and adding entries to my online Science Dictionary, because as we all know, science is much less about knowing the "right answer" than it is about asking good questions.  Our understanding of the world around us is always growing and evolving, especially in a field like genetics. On my list of definitions to add to the online dictionary are terms like forensics and DNA mapping. Like Dr.  Starr, I know that kids are fascinated by this fast-developing field,  which explores the fundamental "fingerprints" of our individual,  biological identities.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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